LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Before he left office, former Governor Matt Bevin issued several pardons including two convicted of homicide.
Republican leaders are joining Democrats in expressing disapproval and even calling on the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate. Late Friday Senate President Robert Stivers said this about Bevin’s outgoing pardons and commutations.
“From what we know of former Governor Bevin’s extreme pardons and commutations, the Senate Republican Majority condemns his actions as a travesty and perversion of justice. Our citizens, and especially the crime victims and their families, deserve better. We support the gathering of facts and call upon the U.S. Attorney’s office to launch an investigation into former Governor Bevin’s pardons.”
Spectrum News 1 spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said “Honestly, I don’t approve. It seems to me it was completely inappropriate.”
Democratic lawmakers Morgan McGarvey and Chris Harris asked Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate some of Bevin’s pardons.
Cameron issued a statement shortly after hearing of the request. He said, “The pardon power was one of the most hotly contested powers during Kentucky’s Constitutional Convention. Ultimately, our framers decided to give the Governor the sole power to pardon a person convicted of any crime, save impeachment, and the provision has remained unchanged for almost 130 years. Kentucky’s prosecutors do an outstanding job of bringing to justice those individuals who have committed a crime, and I stand by these prosecutors. I also respect the decisions of juries who convict wrongdoers. That is why I believe the pardon power should be used sparingly and only after great deliberation with due regard to public safety. I look forward to assuming the responsibilities of the Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday, December 17.”
Bevin pardoned Delmar Partin, who killed his former lover.and stuffed her into a 55-gallon drum at a chemical plant where they both worked in Barbourville in 1993. Partin was serving a life sentence, but defense attorneys argued there was a small window of time for Partin to kill the woman and there was no physical evidence linking him to the death.
In his pardon order, Bevin cited the “inability or unwillingness of the state to use existing DNA evidence to either affirm or disprove this conviction.”
Bevin also pardoned Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide, robbery, and other crimes in a fatal 2014 Knox County home break-in. According to the Courier-Journal, Baker’s family raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser for Bevin and Baker’s brother and sister-in-law gave $4,000 to Bevin’s campaign on the same day as the fundraiser. The other defendants in the Baker case were not pardoned.
The death sentence of Greg Wilson, who was convicted of the 1987 kidnapping, rape, and murder of Deborah Pooley in Covington, was also commuted by Bevin. Pooley’s body was dumped in Indiana and not found for two weeks. Wilson was sent to death row at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville in 1988.
Bevin said Wilson’s legal defense was inadequate and the prosecution and defense in the case were “incompetent.” Bevin reduced Wilson’s death sentence to life with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 30 years.
Another pardon issued by Bevin was Micah Schoettle. Schoettle was sentenced in July 2018 of raping a 9-year-old child in Kenton County. Bevin says Schoettle was convicted “based only on testimony that was not supported by any physical evidence.” Bevin said he does not believe the charges against Schoettle are true.
Bevin lost to Democrat Andy Beshear last month and since November 5 has issued more than 400 pardons. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there have been so many documents filed, the office has been unable to post them all online.